UPDATE: This was the site for use in a no-deal Brexit. There is now a different system in place, click here for the latest information.
The French government on Wednesday launched its new online portal that allows British citizens who are already living in France to begin the process of applying for their residency status.
The site allows British people to apply online for the residency papers they will need once Britain leaves the EU, and is only available to people are are already legally resident in France.
Launched with little fanfare, the site is now live on the French government portal here.
The website was launched as part of France's preparations for a no-deal Brexit. The Local understands the website is in a test phase and changes may be made if problems are reported.
The opening page of the platform, which is in both English and French, contains a message that explains what Britons need to do and presumes Britain's exit date from the EU will be October 31st and they it will be a no-deal Brexit. It makes no mention of what happens if there is a Brexit extension.
“Having a residence permit will be mandatory as of October 31st, 2020 for all people over the age of 18. Until October 31st, 2020, your rights in terms of residency, employment as well as all of your social rights will continue,” it reads.
“You will have a six-month period as of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal date (i.e. until 04/30/2020) in order to request a residence permit.”
Under a no-deal Brexit France will give British citizens a year to obtain a residency permit but they must apply within six months.
Applicants are instructed they need to scan and upload a copy of their passport as well as several documents and then they will receive a confirmation email.
They will then be sent an email to make an appointment at their local prefecture to arrange “fingerprinting, photo and proof of fee payment”. The residence permit will then be sent out to home addresses in France.
The Local understands that the British Embassy, who have been working closely with the Interior Minister on issues around residency, were taken aback by Wednesday's launch.
- What are the difference between a no-deal Brexit and leaving with an agreement?
- France's no-deal Brexit decree – what you need to know
People who have been living here for more than five years and already have a carte de séjour permenant can simply swap it for the new card, everyone else – including people who have no card and people who have the short-term 5-year card – has to make a completely new application using this site.
“The residence permits obtained before the United Kingdom’s withdrawal date from the EU will remain valid for one year. They will need to be exchanged during this period, including permanent residence permits,” the website says.
Part of the confusion around the site is what exactly people will be applying for, as there are different residency deals depending on whether Britain leaves the EU with or without a deal.
There are also fears that the sheer number of people trying to access the site will lead to it crashing.
But the most important thing to remember is that there is no tearing hurry and no need to panic if all your documents are not to hand right this second.
If Britain leaves the EU with no deal then Brits get a one-year grace period to sort out their residency status – although applications must be made within six months of Brexit day. If the UK leaves with a deal there will be a transition period that will last until at least December 2020.
So although it's good to get things ready, there really is no need to panic.
If you have used the site, please share your experiences here.